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WHO warns African countries against lifting lockdowns too early

WHO director general Tedros Ghebreyesus lauded South Africa for its handling of the lockdown.

World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus talks during a daily press briefing on COVID-19 virus at the WHO headquarters in Geneva on 11 March 2020. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Monday said African countries needed to lift their lockdowns in a phased approach.

Tuesday is South Africa's second day under level 3 restrictions, which allows for greater freedom to exercise, the return of more people to work, and return of booze to shop shelves.

WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus lauded the country for its handling of the lockdown. He said African countries had shown solidarity by working together in their response to fighting the virus.

Ghebreyesus acknowledged that social distancing in many countries across the continent was impossible but praised leaders for trying the best they could to impose this regulation.

“The social distancing in Africa actually started while a number of cases were low. It was done earlier than possible, and I think that helped in slowing the pandemic,” Ghebreyesus said.

He said countries made the right move by sending more health workers into communities to teach people about the virus.

“We need to continue to strengthen, especially the case identification, tracing, and other public health measures,” he said.

Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said last week that the initial hard lockdown in the country was to ensure the country’s health system was prepared to deal with the pandemic.

For official information about COVID-19 from the Department of Health, please click here.